Germany legend and 1990 FIFA World Cup winner Lothar Matthäus has compared the crop of talent that Joachim Löw will take to Russia to the side he captained to glory in Italy 28 years ago.
The record appearance-maker in World Cup history, with 25 matches played, former Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach star Matthäus knows what it takes to compete at the ultimate international level.
Joined by the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudi Völler, Klaus Augenthaler and Andreas Brehme, Germany clinched their third World Cup title in 1990, captained by Matthäus. The 57-year-old believes the current squad is even more talented – but insisted that quality alone will not be enough to secure a record-equalling fifth title.
"I think the squad generally has higher quality than the team from 1990,” Matthäus explained to bundesliga.com.
“There are different systems, options and possibilities. But quality alone will not make the difference, will not automatically win you the title. I think you need the right mentality, and passion, and of course you need luck to win the World Cup,” he said.
The former box-to-box midfielder has highlighted one key man for Germany in their hunt to defend the World Cup title. And on the back of this star's third UEFA Champions League win in a row – and fourth overall – you can understand Matthäus’ opinion.
"I think at this moment a key player is Toni Kroos,” Matthäus explained. “He’s won the Champions League four times. Three times in a row with Real Madrid. One time before with Bayern. I think he’s full of confidence. He's coming to the tournament and he’d like to show that it’s not only possible to win titles with Real, he will win with the German team too. He can make the difference.”
Another crucial factor could be Germany’s incredible strength in depth, which has led to Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, and the creators of the winning goal from 2014 – Borussia Dortmund pair Andre Schürrle and Mario Götze – all being left at home. Matthäus sees potential throughout the 2018 squad.
“We have good attackers. We have pretty much the best goalkeeper in the world [Manuel Neuer],” he said. “I think the team has good balance and good options from the bench, and this makes Germany one of the favourites."